Author Shelley Adina was kind enough to answer these interview questions for this blog! Thank you very much for your time! Hope you enjoy! She writes the "All about us" novels! I have reviewed "Who Made you a Princess" on this blog, so check that out if you would like as well! Enjoy!
What inspired you to become a writer?
The sheer coolness of knowing that words on a page could create an experience in someone’s head is what made me want to be a writer when I was small. When I was learning to read, the words and the pictures blended in my mind to make this cinematic experience that got me hooked. Even today I don’t really see words when I read. I see the movie playing that the words create as I read them. But then, I see numbers and letters in color, too, so I don’t know what that says about my brain :)
Do you have a favorite spot or way to write?
Strangely enough, I don’t write in my office. My brain seems to have decided that’s for left-side things like doing e-mail and taxes. In order for the creative side of my brain to work, from 11 until 3 or so I go into the garden or on the deck and work out there . . . except in the winter, when I work on the couch. I use an AlphaSmart Neo, which is portable, light, and indestructible. Good for my style of writing, which boils down to ramble here, ramble there, sit down and write a page, ramble somewhere else, write another page . . .
What is your favorite book?
Eek—you’re going to make me pick only one? How about a three-way tie between Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, and Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book.
Why did you choose to write young adult books?
Because I remember vividly what it was like to be a teenager, with all the decisions and disappointments and joys. Technology and communication may have changed, but being dumped by your boyfriend hasn’t. Nor has the happiness of making a real friend, or the excitement of deciding who you’re going to be. Young adult books allow the writer to be honest, and to say things and create situations that might not fly in books for adults. Plus the clothes are way more fun, so I play dress-up with my characters a lot :)
Do you read young adult books?
I sure do, and have since I was ten or so. I remember being really angry at my school librarian for not letting me read the seventh-grade books when I was only in sixth. She didn’t care that I’d read everything “appropriate” to my age group. I wanted to read up and that was my first experience with censorship. Grr. Today I read everything from Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling to new voices like Kelly Parra and Tina Ferraro.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
My books begin with a “flash” of an opening scene, like a trailer for a movie. I see people and places and maybe an event, but I don’t really know the plot that leads to and from that point. For It’s All About Us, the first book in the All About Us series, I saw a blonde girl standing on the steps of a boarding school, unwilling to go in, and I thought, How come she doesn’t want to go in? Where has she come from? What’s waiting for her in there? I started writing to answer those questions for myself.
The story ideas come from places like People magazine, the newspaper, YouTube, overheard conversations, a show on the Discovery Channel, you name it. Everything goes into a pot boiling away in the back of my brain, and before long a story comes out! So far in this series I’ve dealt with the technical virgin, date abuse, a stalker, and a handsome prince. Not to mention clothes, midterms, shoes, and crème brulée. That pot in my brain is a busy place.
I finished reading Who Made You a Princess? not long ago, and really enjoyed it! Was it harder to write the prince’s character than it was for your other characters?
Actually, no, because I saw him so clearly. I based his external looks on the actor Eric Balfour, but his inner character had to be created thoughtfully in order to make him work. I mean, if you’d been brought up to put your country and its throne first, but were still a modern young man, how would you feel about your parents arranging your marriage? How would you adapt to a term at an American school, where there’s a lot more freedom than you’ve been used to? How would you reconcile new ideas about freedom and the rights of women with what your parents lived by in an old-fashioned monarchy? So Rashid was an interesting mix of old and new, of power and courtliness. And putting him up against Shani, who is outspoken, quick-tempered, and knows her own mind, was fun!
Which character do you think you relate to the most in your All About Us novels?
I relate to Lissa the most, because she has the longest journey. She makes a lot of mistakes but yet she’s vulnerable. She really depends on her friends, which I relate to, and she always tries to do the right thing even though others may not agree, which I’ve experienced as well. That said, I think Carly is the warm heart of this group of friends. She may be the one with the least in a material sense, but her love for her friends covers them all.
Do you have any tips for teens who want to become writers?
Don’t give up. This business isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re burning to tell a story, get all the training you can and tell it. Check university extensions and community colleges for writing classes. Take classes online. Focus on your craft—grammar, punctuation, pacing, motivation, point of view, conflict—until it becomes instinctive and the story flows through that net of skills. And then pull out all the stops, be true to the story in your heart, and write!
Do you have a favorite out of your All About Us novels?
Ack—another difficult question! I can’t say any one of them is my favorite because I put heart and soul into each one trying to make it unique and fun. But there are bits of them that I love … the way Lissa and Gillian always have each other’s backs. The way Carly can dream a beautiful dress out of thin air. The way Mac owns any room she walks into. The way Shani wanted the Star of the Desert so bad and yet was strong enough to say no when it came down to the choice that would define the rest of her life. And my favorite thing of all is how the powers of friendship and faith bind all the girls together in ways that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Do you plan on writing any other young adult books?
I sure do! I have ideas for three series, all completely different from one another. It’s just a matter of getting some chapters on paper and finding a publisher who loves them as much as I do.
What was the first story that you wrote?
I wrote short pieces for school, but I wrote my first complete novel at 13. It was called Six and the Silver Statue, and it was Mary Sue meets Nancy Drew, LOL! I even sent it off to a publisher. It came right back, of course, but the editor was kind enough to recognize how young I was, and he told me not to give up, that I knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep me going for the next couple of decades, until I got some life experience and a couple of degrees under my belt and could take on writing as a career.
I really appreciate your coming to my book blog for an interview! Thank you so much!
Thanks, Reyna, for the chance to sit down and talk. I hope your readers will stop by my website, www.shelleyadina.com, and also the series website at www.allaboutusbooks.net, where my characters blog daily. This month’s prize is to have the girls of